UNDER PRESSURE: Mitsubishi Motors President Tetsuro Aikawa said he would not resign following news of the firm's fuel-efficiency 'cheating' scandal. Image: AFP / Toru Yamanaka
Tokyo - The head of crisis-hit Mitsubishi Motors said Wednesday (April 27) that sales in Japan have fallen off a cliff since the company admitted last week that it has been cheating on fuel-efficiency tests.
Tetsuro Aikawa, the automaker's president, revealed that orders have dropped by almost half since the scandal erupted, as the crisis takes a toll on the company's reputation.
Aikawa said as Mitsubishi released its latest financial results, which were unaffected by the recent revelations: "It's difficult to know exactly what kind of impact this problem will have on sales.
Orders down by 50%
"Domestic orders have dropped by nearly half since before our announcement and now. As far as overseas markets are concerned, we don't have new information on how this has impacted our sales."
He added: "The situation is very serious and we're treating it that way."
The maker of the Outlander sport utility vehicle said it could not make financial forecasts for the current fiscal year to March 2017 in light of the potential damage from the scandal, as it faces the possibility of big fines, lawsuits and compensation costs.
Last week, Mitsubishi first admitted it was using the improper testing, and that unnamed employees manipulated data to make some of its cars seem more fuel-efficient than they were in reality.
Read: Mitsubishi admits to 'cheating' since 1991
Aikawa's comments came after Mitsubishi admitted Tuesday it had been using dodgy fuel-efficiency testing for a quarter of a century, much longer than first thought.
That relevation drove speculation that its misconduct also stretched to vehicles sold overseas, and would send the number of affected vehicles soaring from the more than 600 000 cars, all sold in Japan, that were already known about.
Top brass won't resign
Mitsubishi sold about one million vehicles globally in 2015.
It is unclear what top executives knew about the dodgy testing and data manipulation, but Aikawa has said he did not become aware of the problem until recently.
On Wednesday he dismissed as speculation reports that he and other top executives would resign immediately.
Aikawa said: "I will do everything I can to solve this problem if we are allowed to continue."
An outside panel of experts has been hired to conduct a months-long investigation, while regulators are also probing the company.
The crisis has raised questions about Mitsubishi's future, its Tokyo-listed shares have plummeted by about half since the story broke with billions of dollars wiped off the company's market value.